Life is hard right now. With the pandemic weighing heavily on our minds and the health and wellbeing of our families weighing heavily on our hearts, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. Finding a balance can seem impossible as we move through our days as though running on empty. We are trying our hardest to make the right decisions for our children and our households, but it is hard to know what the right choice is with things constantly changing. And, when things happen outside of our control, like a pandemic, we feel more inadequate than ever. There’s nothing like overwhelming anxiety to make us feel under-equipped for our lives.

In our frustration, we may even wonder if God truly has a plan for us—if God truly has a plan for THIS.  It can certainly be hard to see one when we are being overtaken by the currents of stress and fear crashing into our souls. And, when our hearts feel near their breaking point, it can make us feel alone and invisible.

When we feel overwhelmed and overlooked, we often underestimate God’s faithfulness and the power of his grace to see us in our pain.

Someone who understood this feeling all too well was Hagar. She felt mistreated by her mistress, Sarah. She felt unwanted and misunderstood by the people around her. She was scared and alone, and she felt utterly hopeless about her situation.

The only solution she saw was to run away. And, it was when she felt at her lowest that God revealed himself to her. And, at that moment, Hagar was struck by an astonishing realization. He SAW her.

Genesis 16:13: “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ In Hebrew, ‘The God who sees me’ translates to ‘El Roi.’”

When we are scared, tired, and frustrated, he still sees us. When we are grieving, lost, and uncertain, he still sees us.

Just as he saw Hagar in her distress in the wilderness, God sees us in our wilderness as well. He has not abandoned us, even when we lose sight of him. He has not abandoned our world, even when we lose hope in him.

The pandemic is a challenging season of our lives. But, now more than ever, we need to see the God who sees us. We need to lean into his word and look up from the chaos to Christ. We need to spend that time with him, ask him our questions, pray for answers, supplicate for our world, and seek his character.

The more we read about him, the more we see him for who God is: loving (Romans 5:8), faithful (2 Timothy 2:13), merciful (1 Peter 1:3), compassionate (Psalm 86:15), and trustworthy (Psalm 37:5).

And, when we see him as trustworthy, we can find comfort when he says:

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The Lord sees us where we are, and he sees where he can take us. He makes plans, and he follows through on them. We can have faith in his vision, even when ours feels cloudy and unclear. We can have confidence that he is El Roi, a God who empathizes with our pain and sees us in our sadness.

Times like these make it hard to see the path ahead, but we can take comfort in knowing that the Light of the World walks with us and leads us where we need to go. He encourages our steps and strengthens us as we put one shaky foot in front of the other.

He saw Hagar. He sees us too. And, take heart: he will see us through this challenging time.

Liz Newman